Operating in southern IDAHO since 1981 SUWS is a licensed treatment program that uses a desert environment in an intervention focused on assessment, wilderness therapy, and a strong clinical team to help struggling teens. Utilizing the outdoors, professionally led experiential activities, and highly individualized treatment plans, SUWS strives to empower adolescents with opportunities for growth as they rediscover their sense of purpose and strengthen their connections to self, family, and community. Begun in 1997, the Youth Program promotes a solid foundation of personal self-worth and value from which students and their families rediscover hope through positive reference experiences.
Research indicates that 11-to-13 year olds have specific needs; they think in concrete terms and require tangible experiences from which to build. For this reason SUWS pioneered the Youth Program, separate from its Adolescent Program for 14-to-17 year olds, to provide the security, structure, and predictability required by this age group. SUWS excels at addressing the underlying causes of negative, unhealthy behavior and working through impasses brought about by internal struggles. Common behaviors and issues include family conflict, low self-esteem, entitlement, manipulation, isolation, depression, substance abuse, oppositional defiance, attention deficit, learning differences, school failure, and negative peer relationships.
SUWS provides families with a safe and immediate intervention. The outdoor environment, emphasis on teamwork, and experiential learning help students gain insight and build upon their own sense of selfworth as they learn the value of helping others. Therapists work closely with each child to help him/ her determine the attitudes and behaviors that are negatively impacting self-perceptions. By pinpointing and examining these self-limiting beliefs, the therapist can work with parents, counselors, consultants, and schools to develop customized treatment plans and determine appropriate aftercare arrangements. Program highlights include hiking, primitive skills, ropes course activities, equine assisted psychotherapy, use of llamas as a therapeutic resource and pack animal, mock search-and-rescue drills, licensed therapists, individualized treatment plans, flexible length of stay, individual and group therapy, weekly treatment planning sessions, availability of psychological testing services, parent workshops, therapeutic ropes challenge course, and webbased student updates.